Go to Admin » Appearance » Widgets » and move Gabfire Widget: Social into that MastheadOverlay zone
The new Hardin County Superintendent of Schools is no stranger to area educators.
Jim Zerkle was hired Thursday by the Hardin County Educational Service Center Governing Board to take over the post in August.
He worked at Kenton City Schools as a principal and was superintendent at Ridgemont for two years. He left Ridgemont to return to his home district of Graham, where he retired in 2009 after leading the district for 12 years.
But retirement for Zerkle doesn’t mean watching the world roll by from a rocking chair. Since 2009, he has served as superintendent at Riverside Schools in Degraff and for two months as the interim superintendent at Hi-Point Career Center.
The Hardin County ESC had contracted with the Madison-Champaign ESC for more than a year to provide a superintendent. The local ESC also created the position of director of programs. Zerkle will replace Christine Jeffers as county superintendent through the agreement and Dave Sturgeon as the program services administrator.
Zerkle said he had been considering going into some university work following his departure from Riverside this summer, but the Hardin County ESC agreed to employ him for three days per week and the idea of finishing his career where he began as an administrator appealed to him.
“This is like a homecoming to me,” he said. “I’m excited about it. I spent a chunk of my career in the Hardin County area. This way I will be able to go out with people I have worked with. This is a good opportunity.”
Zerkle takes over the ESC at a time when county districts are looking to other counties to provide the majority of their services. He understands the local educational service center needs to offer new services and to evaluate the services it has in order to encourage Riverdale, Kenton and Ridgemont to return to the local ESC.
“I am a proponent of collaboration,” said Zerkle. “We need to get more people working together. My first step is asking why did those districts leave. What is it we are not providing them? I don’t know what that is. We need to go back and take a look. I want to get a sense of what the people here want.”
Some of the areas Zerkle sees initially as possible areas for expanded services includes grant writing, which could secure funding for the districts. He also would like to encourage programs which would use the Internet to expand curriculum.
Schools are under so much pressure from the state to pass standardized tests, said Zerkle, that they have gotten away from what made America great. Students are no longer encouraged to think for themselves and come up with new ideas.
“We are teaching people how to regurgitate answers,” he said. “We are taking thinking out of teaching. Through online programs schools can really expand their curriculum.”
Zerkle also hopes to reach out to the parents of home schooled students to provide services and support those programs.
At Graham, Zerkle said, he oversaw the construction of two new buildings and the renovation of a third. He has dealt with the Ohio School Facilities Commission, which provides the funding for construction of schools, and is willing to assist Kenton and Ridgemont as they prepare for their building projects.
“I can be a tremendous help to those superintendents and treasurers working with the OSFC,” he said.
The board agreed to pay Zerkle $400 per day for 150 days in his first year.
“We have to be here to serve our people,” said Zerkle, “We need to do things smarter and still be cost effective.”
By DAN ROBINSON
Times staff writer